Yin Yoga can be an antidote to the rest of your life
Think that the benefits of slow yoga are few and far between? Think again! It can’t be ALL weightlifting or power yoga or running or dancing ALL the time… sometimes we need to slow things down and recognize that slow movement (or very little movement) can still have profound benefits to our bodies and minds.
Let’s face it, most of us wish we could slow our lives down a little. Even when we have “free time,” it can mysteriously get filled up with commitments, appointments, and trying to cross things off our to-do list. And speaking of to-do lists, does anyone else write things on their list just so they can immediately cross them off, for the sheer satisfaction of actually finishing something? *Raises hand*
Let’s look at a few ways that slow yoga and how you can harness the power of stillness to increase your power and energy.
Balance your personality
Umm, what? That’s right! Are you a “Type A” person? Do you push and challenge yourself most of the time? Are you at the front of the line and the first to try new things? You may have a more outgoing personality. Have you noticed that it might be hard for you to be still for too long if you’re this type of person? In my 6 years of teaching yoga, I’ve come across people who cannot stand Yin Yoga because it’s too difficult for them to be still for 3 – 5 minutes in each pose (they’re also usually fidgety in Savasana!)
If this is you, consider that since Yin poses such a challenge, it might be the perfect thing for you to practice. No one’s suggesting you give up everything else and sit in Dragonfly Pose all day, but adding a weekly Yin or gentle yoga class once a week can help you balance out your Yang tendencies. And if it makes you feel better, remember that even though you’re being still in each pose, you’re actively working your connective tissues and joints in a way that isn’t possible in most other forms of exercise.
If you happen to be more of a “laid back” person, first of all – GOOD FOR YOU! The rest of us are jealous! You’ll still benefit from Yin for the reasons above – you’re working with connective tissue, fascia and joints in a unique way.
And if you’re prone to anxiety, definitely give slow yoga and Yin a try. You’ll be able to release tension in a way you didn’t know was possible.
Balance your self-care routine
“Self-Care” can be a rather ubiquitous term these days, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a Thing. It’s a very important Thing!
Intentionally setting aside time to care for yourself is non-negotiable. And it’s different from finding yourself with twenty extra minutes to sit on the couch to stream a show before you go do all the dishes waiting for you in the sink. To block time out on your calendar, or create a daily/weekly routine to take time out to care for yourself can have tremendous benefits. Learning to set boundaries and care for ourselves is a challenge. But it’s necessary.
Adding a Yin Yoga class into your schedule will give you some much-needed quiet time. Be sure to acknowledge that you’ve taken this time for yourself as you practice.
Learn patience (and sometimes how to sit with discomfort)
Sometimes it’s not easy to a) sit still for 5 minutes at a time and/or b) sit still for 5 minutes in a deep stretch. First let’s be clear on one thing – discomfort doesn’t mean pain! It’s one thing to have big feels in a Yin pose. It’s quite another to feel sharp, dull, or stabbing pain. If something hurts don’t do it!
That said, learning to accept the intensity of a Yin pose (while still remaining in your comfort zone) can be an art form, and a skill worth practicing. We can’t always get out of “poses” in our day-to-day lives. There are obligations or obstacles we must face. But to do so with patience, grace, and skills to stay healthy through it all, can be a blessing. As you practice Yin, you’ll begin to develop these skills and have a greater understanding of what you truly need to keep healthy and happy.
And on that note, the last point I’ll mention that Yin can help you with is…
Hone your self-observation skills
If you’re moving at a million miles per hour (or even have a million, lol), there’s not much time to listen to the wisdom of your body. Or the wisdom of your higher self, inner being – whatever you choose to call that intuitive, wise voice that resides within us.
If you pause and listen, you’ll begin to better understand what your body needs – and doesn’t need. You’ll begin to hear the wisdom of your Self, and you’ll be able to trust that wisdom.
Taking the time to find stillness in a Yin Yoga class will give you the time and space to pause, notice, listen.